Patriots

Wilfork slimmer, ready for his ninth training camp

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Wilfork slimmer, ready for his ninth training camp

FOXBORO -- Whether he's on the field or courtside at a Celtics game, New Englanders know Vince Wilfork when they see him. He's the big guy, generally.

But might New England's favorite mountain of a man have shed some of his signature size? On the first day of training camp, Wilfork appeared to many to have lost some weight.

"Just getting in shape, ready to play some football," Wilfork said, drenched in sweat after the practice session. "That's my main goal. I take my offseason really serious like I do each year. I'm looking forward to a good season. I lost a couple pounds, it's not a big deal."

Wilfork is listed at 6-foot-2, 325 pounds. Over the years, that's been seen as a bit of a conservative listing so perhaps he's getting closer to making it a reality.

Regardless of how he's tipping the scales -- he wouldn't give reporters an estimate of his weight -- it's clear he has taken pride in keeping himself ready to play, especially now that he's in the ninth year of his career.

"A lot of hard work," said Wilfork when asked about his weight-loss program. "Every year they say the older you get the harder it gets so I just wanted to make sure I'm in the most tip-top shape I can be in at camp. Coming in for nine years, I just wanna make sure I have good conditioning up under me and my body feels good. And you know it does. That's an area I took advantage of this offseason and it paid off."

Wilfork's remained remarkably consistent over the course of his career. In fact, he may actually be getting better with age. He's a four-time Pro Bowler and he had one of the best seasons last year. He put up a career-high in sacks (3.5), he hauled in two interceptions and he scored a touchdown in Week 14 against the Redskins. Plus, he had one of the most dominant games of his career at home in the AFC Championship Game against the Ravens.

He figures to be the anchor of the Patriots' defensive line again this season. And though he's a little slimmer, his appetite for football has not been curbed. He says he still enjoys his job, even training camp.

"Nine years now, I remember coming in as a rookie, having all the veterans around me," Wilfork said. "Willie McGinest and Roman Phifer, Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson . . . Corey Dillion. It just goes to show, kind of don't pay it no attention, but after a while you start realizing 'I've been around for a little bit.' But it's always the same. You're always excited to come back and start playing this game."

Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip

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Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip

While being away from home isn’t uncommon for the Patriots - just think about all those Super Bowl trips - Tom Brady believes each excursion takes on it’s own feel, it’s own flavor and - eventually - it’s own meaning.

Back in 2014, the Pats went from playing in Green Bay and losing to the Packers straight to San Diego for a week on the West Coast prior to a rousing victory over the Chargers. That week, many players said in the aftermath, helped propel the team to great heights,.  You’ll recall, that season ended in grand fashion, a triumph in Super Bowl 49 over Seattle, at the time - and maybe still - the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

“I think all these experiences are pretty unique,” Brady said Friday from Falcon Stadium at the Air Force Academy. “That was a very unique experience. This is different.”

Brady spoke about the number of stops the Pats have and will have to make on this trip - from Denver to Colorado Springs then on to Mexico City Saturday before a Sunday night return to Foxboro and their own beds for the first time in 10 nights.

“When you’re on the road like this, there’s less to do,” he said. “You know my family is not here, my kids aren’t here. There’s nobody telling me what I did wrong in the house. It’s just being at home and now it’s being here and trying to figure out a way to win a game.”

Brady quickly smoothed over any possible ill-will at home - why make Gisele mad? - smiling and saying “I didn’t mean that so I’ll take it back.”

Kidding aside, the 40-year old signal caller seemed pleased with the work the Patriots have put in during this long trip. A week of team-bonding can’t be a bad thing, especially for a group that seems to be hitting it’s stride both on and off the field. There’s the five wins in a row and also a locker room that has a better understanding of one another than it did during the first month of the season. But Brady is not ready to make any grand proclamations. That just wouldn’t be his style.

“I think it’s still work in progress,” he said of team chemistry. “You look at still adding a player like Marty (Bennett) last week. Things are always changing and evolving. We’re still trying to figure out what we’re doing well and after 8 or 9 weeks, you start to figure those things out. Now we have to work hard at those things, try to really own them, and use them going forward to try and win the most important games. We have a lot of important games coming up, starting with this one. Hopefully we can play our best football going forward.”

Brady said he’s been fired up for this game with the Raiders south of the border ever since the schedule was released all those months ago.

“I’ve never been to Mexico City,” he said. “It’s been a game you kind of look forward to. We’re playing against a really good football team in a pretty cool environment. It will be very memorable. I think everyone is excited.”

Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

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Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

The Patriots will be without center David Andrews on Sunday when they play the Raiders in Mexico City. Andrews, who hasn’t all practice all week with an illness, is one of four Pats listed as out on the injury report released Friday.

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Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, who didn’t play last week against the Broncos is also out, along with wide receiver Chris Hogan and special teams captain Matthew Slater. Offensive linemen Ted Karras and Joe Thuney each took reps at center so one of them will likely start in Andrews’ absence. LaAdrian Waddle filled in for Cannon and performed well last week vs. Denver. 

Here’s the full injury report for the Patriots and Raiders: